On VH1's I Love The 80s and 90s, comedian Hal Sparks had no qualms about knocking pop culture absurdities like He-Man, Chumbawumba and Dolly the cloned sheep. But don't ask him to bash the '70s.
"The '70s invented porn," he says in a phone interview. "Without them there would be no 'bow chica wow wow.' Next time you think the '70s are lame, remember 'bow-chica-wow-wow.'"
Sparks, also an actor and musician, brings his pop-culture insights to the Improv for five shows this weekend.
Best known as affable mama's boy Michael Novotney in the hit Showtime series Queer as Folk, Sparks now lends his voice to Tak, the loinclothed hero of Nickelodeon's Tak and the Power of Juju, and sings and plays guitar in his band, Zero 1.
Asked about current trends, he seems most eager to discuss the evolution of the Internet.
"It went from being the Information Age to the Stare At Your Neighbor Through The Window Age," he says. "It went from 'Let's look at Encyclopedia Britannica' to 'Hey, check out this naked chick.'"
But Sparks holds Twitter in high esteem.
"Fifty years from now, Twitter will be a form of government," he says. "[Twitter feeds] will eventually be organically integrated into our brains."
He also points out its ability to perform Christ-like miracles.
"Twitter is the 'loaves and fishes' of our day," he says. "You start out with someone saying one crazy thing and then it suddenly multiplies into a million other crazy things."
A self-proclaimed Democrat and progressive, Sparks says his political passions frequently influence his standup routines.
"You can't be on Queer as Folk for five years and have everything you say about the gay community not be taken politically," he says.
Even his pop-culture commentary has a political edge.
"I like to talk about the social aspect of pop culture because it's more lasting," he explains. "Like why do we always think fads are something new? People don't realize that [the recent grunge comeback] is just the '70s coming around for the fourth time."
Speaking of '70s icons, Sparks laments he will never be able to team up with the late George Carlin. But he'd jump at the opportunity to work with Steve Martin, whom he calls "an amazing writer."
As a boy, moreover, Sparks held great reverence for the members of KISS, largely because of the band members' unfathomably numerous sexual conquests.
"If you look at me, you can see I've pretty much designed myself as a person based on the members of KISS," he says.
Sparks says emulating them has been instrumental in the success of his sex life.
"But I actually wear a codpiece now," he adds. "Women really go for it. And I mean, why shouldn't they? If it worked in the Middle Ages, why not now?"
Hal Sparks performs Fri., Aug. 21-Sun., Aug. 23. Improv Comedy Club. 166 E. Bridge St., West Homestead. $20. 412-462-5233 or symfonee.com/Improv/pittsburgh